IKEA Ditches Styrofoam for Mushroom Based Packaging

Known for its toxic impact on nature, plastic is one of the biggest environmental concerns we face today. One issue is that plastic forms so many of the containers and packaging used for retail products. Nearly half of all such packaging is plastic, in fact. While plastic does have a lot of convenient uses in that regard, it is a shame that is it so destructive to nature. 

Conversely, it is a good thing that mushrooms have so many environmental benefits, with more being uncovered all the time. Not long ago, scientists discovered a mushroom called the Pestalotiopsis microspore, which is able to digest plastic and convert it into a fungal-based food product for people to eat. 

Biodegradable packing made from mushrooms.

As it happens, mushrooms have proven to be useful once again. This time around, they have been able to act as a viable alternative to environmentally-unfriendly containers such as the ones made out of plastic or Styrofoam. These mushroom containers are made out of fungal roots and farming residues. At the start of the manufacturing process, fungus sprouts (also known as mycelium) are mixed in with seedlings and other agricultural residues. With a network of wire-like cells, it acts as a natural adhesive. 

Once the mushroom containers are no longer needed, they can be used for compost, and are otherwise fully biodegradable. The containers can decompose into nature within a timespan of one month, and are also completely harmless to any living creatures who happen to ingest them. Among other benefits, the containers also use only 12% of the energy used in plastic production, and they produce 90% less carbon emissions than plastic manufacture. 

Polystyrene for organic.

IKEA, a company that sells furniture, kitchen appliances, and home accessories, began to make use of these mushroom-based containers over the summer of 2019, even going far enough to announce that MycoComposite packaging would be replacing Styrofoam for all of the company’s products. Joanna Yarrow, IKEA’s Head of Sustainability, stated that this was, “[a] small yet significant step towards reducing waste and conserving ecological balance.” 

There are still many people to this day who are unaware of how damaging plastic and Styrofoam are. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic, which causes pollution by emitting greenhouse gases. It is also very harmful to any creatures who end up consuming the Styrofoam. Cows and birds especially are at high risk for ingesting it, and it is believed that by 2050, 99% of birds will have plastic inside of them. It can also be harmful to people as well. For one thing, chemicals from Styrofoam containers can contaminate the food or drinks inside, which is detrimental to human health. 

All we can do for now is continue to spread awareness, and to hope that these new methods of environmentally-safe packaging will further catch on. IKEA’s new approach and their willingness to alter their production methods is promising, and it inspires faith that others will learn to do the same. 

The Worlds First Electric Plane Has Taken Flight

The world’s first fully electric plane took a successful flight for almost fifteen minutes. The world’s first fully-electric commercial aircraft made its maiden test flight in December 2019, taking off from Vancouver, Canada, gifting a massive confidence that the aviation industry may end their contaminating and polluting emissions.

The airline industry across the globe has vowed to lessen the carbon footprint of the aviation business; they are now focusing on electric propulsion. As per a recent report by Climate Law Institute, aircraft would contribute more than forty gigatons of pollutants by the year 2050, exhausting with more than 6% of earth’s remaining carbon budget. Planes release overwhelming levels of carbon dioxide, the most rampant greenhouse gas. With the green intention, the test flight of an all-electric flight has changed the game of the aviation industry.

The organizations of Harbour Air and Magnix need to be congratulated for their incredible partnership in creating the very first all-electric commercial aviation vehicle. A big thanks to them discovering aviation with zero emissions. In simpler words, let’s assume passenger aviation as a country; the same would rank eighth after South Korea on carbon footprints. As the world prepares for COP26, the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, it is highly ambiguous how delegates will put forward an international treaty to cut airplane pollution.

The United Nations agency of ICAO responsible for focusing on international aviation pollution has flopped to deal with aviation carbon emissions. The industry has successfully launched its first all-electric airplane, to deal with aviation pollution. The biggest challenge for “Green Propulsion” is that electric engines are relatively weak when compared to the weight of large planes.

First, short-haul flights are possible with the limited battery life of these electric engines. The best part is, the industry doesn’t have to build a new plane around the electric motor, which demands more resources concerning money and time. However, the existing aircraft can be modernized with the non-polluting electric engine.

We all remember the Wright Brothers, who blessed us with a new era of transportation with their invention. And, almost a century later, technology maestro Harbor Air has revolutionized its design with all-electric airplanes. Their venture marks the latest evolution in all-electric flight, a quantum to fight climate change.

With many companies like Boeing, Uber, etc. are working on developing electric vertical take-off and landing, environmentally friendly, passenger electric air travel can be a reality very soon.

The Olympic 2020 Medals will be Designed from Recycled Gadgets

Japan will host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2020. To make this event more memorable, Japan has promised to use the most innovative ideas for organizing these games. The games in Japan will start on July 24th, 2020, and the Olympic Committee at Tokyo has revealed the medals for the winners will be created from precious recycled metals extracted from various recycled electronic items.

The young Japanese environmentalists originally proposed the idea of stripping out the smaller quantities of platinum, silver, gold, and nickel from rejected and old devices in the year 2016. Those students were interested in raising awareness about the vast amount of electronic waste created by the tech-loving residents in the country who keep on replacing their electronic gadgets time and again. Stats reveal that Japanese citizens create almost 650,000 tons of waste from small home appliances and electronic gadgets per year, out of which only 100,000 tons are sent to the recycling plants.

A girl donating a cell phone to be recycled for the 2020 Olympics medals.

The Olympic committee took the initiative to save the environment as well as to raise awareness on this issue. They launched their new program “Everyone’s Medal” in February 2017 to encourage Japanese residents to deposit all the unused electronics at 2400 stores of NTT Docomo, a mobile phone operator company in Japan. Several other locations by the Environmental Sanitation Center had been created, to ease the process for the local citizens.

Each electronic item contains minute traces of precious metals; hence, the organizers need millions of devices to extract the required 8 tons of material that is needed for crafting 5000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. However, the great news is that from the launch date of this program, the Japanese residents have donated vast amounts of electronic gadgets. The estimates reveal 78,895 tons deposition with only 6.21 million smartphones. The donations allowed the committee to extract 4850 pounds of bronze, 7716 pounds of silver, and 70 pounds of gold; this quantity is enough to prepare 5000 medals.

Smelting and refining their parts until they turn to usable metals.

The committee revealed that each one of these medals will have a diameter of 85 mm. Each medal will have five interlocking rings symbolizing Olympic, the official name of these games, and the symbol of the Greek goddess of Victory with a background view of the Panathenaic stadium.

All these gold medals will be prepared by using pure silver material with the gold plating of around 6 grams. As per the regulation, the silver content in the silver medals is required to be at least 92.5%; however, the great news is that this recycling effort promised to craft silver medals containing 100% pure silver material. Furthermore, the bronze medal will have red brass alloy, including 5% zinc and 95% copper. The case to keep these medals will be designed using Japanese ash wood.

Peruvian Group Introduced Organic Plates Using Banana Leaves

From the past few years, numbers of scientists and researchers are working hard to find potential alternatives to the harmful plastics. The original idea is to save environmental health while protecting the well-being of individuals as well.

A group of young Peruvians recently launched a project called “Bio Plant.” This project is to help reduce the plastic crises polluting landfills and bodies of water.

The Peruvian Group, as they are referred too, have created biodegradable plates made up of banana leaves. It is a positive step in the direction of reducing the environmental pollution. These recently developed biodegradable plates can be used as a healthy replacement to the traditional plastic plates; it can further help to reduce the level of plastic waste in the oceans and landfills.

Biodegradable plates made from banana leaves.

These organic plates are capable of naturally decomposing within 60 days. Conversely, the plastic containers and the traditional dishes that are designed using polystyrene material take more than 500 years to decompose; hence, they cause potential harm to the wildlife and the marine life in the oceans.

The project leader, Josue Soto, in a recent interview, said that they are working continuously on this project. They have collaborated with a few small producers in the Peruvian region to ensure fair pricing for the development. Also, they are providing technical training for the cultivation of banana in the area.

Soup in a banana leaf bowl.

There is another group, Chuwa Plant, that is working in the same direction, but they make use of cardboard cellulose and paper to create single-use, disposable plates. These plates also provide considerable resistance to liquids, temperature, and a variety of foods.

Josue Soto also stated that they do not cut down the banana trees to obtain leaves for production; instead, they pick up the fallen leaves that break off naturally when they are fully grown.

The estimated dimension of these plates is 22 x 16 x 3 cm, and they are not carcinogenic in nature. These products are already being used in several regions of Peru, and they have provided a reliable solution to the routine needs. Many restaurants and wineries are also preferring these products in the area.

Biological Concrete That Grows Moss and Provides Insulation while Absorbing CO2

The advanced technologies have revolutionized the human lifestyle by considerable levels. It is now possible to develop buildings supporting the natural growth of vegetation without even risking structural integrity.

Moss covered walls look beautiful, but from the past several years, they were a matter of worry due to the slow destruction they cause to the structure with time. However, this problem is now solved forever.

The researchers at Structural Technology Group, Barcelona, recently announced the successful development of a new material that supports natural and accelerated growth of potential pigmented organisms.

This biological concrete material is designed for the building facades as well as other building developments in the Mediterranean climates. It promises several thermal, environmental, and aesthetic advantages over traditional structural solutions.

This concrete allows the growth of a few specific types of vegetation that can also provide insulation to the building. The essential feature of this concrete is its ability to produce natural biological support to the growth of a few specific biological organisms, especially mosses, lichens, fungi, and microalgae. It can cover the entire building with vegetation that keeps on changing color in different seasons throughout the year.

People find it an aesthetically pleasing solution for their home. However, to lead the proper growth of vegetation on this concrete, it is essential to make a few specific changes to the material. The researchers changed the natural pH of concrete to level 8 that is usually a preferred choice for the growth of vegetation.

Concrete growing moss near the Mediterranean.

The concrete is developed using these three layers over the underlying structural layer:

·        The first most layer of this material is a waterproofing element that is placed on the top of the structural layer. It provides desired protection from water-related damage.

·        The second layer is an organic layer that supports colonization while allowing water to gather inside. It creates an internal microstructure that can store rainwater to expel moisture for the growth of biological organisms.

·        The third and final layer is a discontinuous coating layer that does precisely reverse the waterproofing function. It allows rainwater inside and prevents its escape out of the concrete so that the desired level of moisture can be maintained in the middle layer.

Another fantastic advantage of this moss growing concrete is that it absorbs atmospheric CO2 with its biological coating. Also, it can capture the necessary amount of solar radiation so that buildings can maintain the desired level of thermal conductivity all the time. In simple words, it works like a thermal regulator with a layer of insulation.

One more incredible benefit of using this unique type of concrete for buildings is its ability to provide unique finishes and colorful shades. It is believed to be one of the best solutions for vertical garden systems and can also improve environmental health. Moss growing concrete promises the ultimate design and development of buildings.

The Beginning of A New Industry to Suck CO2 From The Atmosphere

A Canadian company in west Texas, near what is considered the most productive oilfields of the continent, is building a new and exciting plant. The main objective of the plant is to suck out those extra tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air, which is one of the ruling components catalyzing air pollution.

If things go according to the outlined plans, Carbon Engineering’s solitary plant will stand tall as a revolutionary strategy to combat climate change. In a recent interview, CEO Steve Oldham stated that “We’re pulling the CO2 back down” and we cannot hold our excitement to witness how things eventually turn out to be.

Considering the ever-surging levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, educated humans from all around the world in labs and boardrooms are always outlining schemes that would reduce CO2 emissions to restore the vitality of the planet. However, the good news is, a generous amount of carbon dioxide has already been removed from the air, and this provides the common human with a ray of hope for better days.

A paper published in the scientific journal “Nature Climate Change” stated that for climate change to remain static at 2 degrees Celsius, about 120-160 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide must be pulled out from the circumscribing air and stored underground.

Nevertheless, conducting something like this will need to be backed by enormous resources, and this is why the participation of large-scale companies like Carbon Engineering to bring about an alteration has gained attention. To balance things out, making use of CO2 to fabricate commercial products can ensure the payments for the sizable scale-up technology to suck CO2 from the air and insert it into the ground.

A large fan pulls CO2 from the air, in Squamish, B.C.

Carbon Engineering has already lent momentum to its plan of pulling CO2 from the air and transforming them into fuel in its pilot plant located in Squamish, B.C.; while CarbonCure Technologies has taken up the role of injecting the CO2 into the concrete. There is already a string of companies in the industry that are pumping CO2 underground to push up more oil on the surface of the soil to facilitate its easy availability.

Other companies that have signed up with a similar agenda are making use of the gas to fashion chemicals that are useful in everyday life and plastics. To encourage more and more companies to take part in the movement that is striving to make the world more habitable, the group is running the Carbon XPrize that comprises of a $20 million award for the idea that can convert CO2 into the most appropriate saleable product.

As per predictions, this market is expected to grow steadily at $1 trillion per year but, the question is whether or not is the prize money capable of accelerating innovation and construction to curb atmospheric CO2 to prevent global temperatures from moving past 1.5 degrees. If things aren’t taken under control at the earliest, this configuration is only a decade away.

Hemp is Here to Negate the Age-Old Rule of Cotton Through Levi’s Jeans

Hemp is making a comeback through Levi’s jeans to negate the age-old rule of cotton. For the first time in centuries, hemp is legal across the United States. It is owing to the innumerable benefits that the plant introduces both to the users and the environment. Considering its increasing popularity, the fact that hemp produces twice as much fiber as cotton can no longer be hidden under the veil.

Furthermore, the amount of pesticides and water that goes into growing hemp is less significant when weighed against the other fabrics. This is primarily the reason why the derivatives of hemp are now being used to fashion clothes. Levi’s stands as one of the first brands to capitalize on its profits as a source of clothing by amalgamating it into their trademarks.

Hemp used as a sustainable cotton.

A common misconception that surrounded hemp was that the plant is synonymous with marijuana, and this notion encouraged the illegal cultivation of the former in the United States for over 80 years. However, after Congress passed the Hemp farming Act, it was included in the farm bill in December 2018 thereby, rendered clothing manufacturers from every nook and corner of America with the opportunity to utilize the affordable recourse of hemp.

The law fundamentally aims at legalizing the production, cultivation, processing, and distribution of hemp for industrial use. Let us point out that industrial hemp doesn’t contain even the slightest trace of THC, the compound responsible for stimulating the psychoactive effect in humans and, therefore, will not make you high.

Levi Strauss has taken up this project of mixing hemp fiber with their cult denim to tag itself as a more sustainable alternative. For starters, they rolled out the ball by blending 30% of hemp with 70% cotton but, if all things work well and fulfill the market anticipations, they hope to have 100% hemp jeans soon.

The prime heads controlling this drive believes that their customers are familiar with the texture of cotton, and for them to successfully accustom themselves to the stiffness of hemp, the mechanism should be advanced steadily.

A hemp field

As per the predictions of cannabis analytics, the hemp industry is expecting to reach a configuration of around $5.7 billion by 2020. With the environmental concerns only rising by the day, these jeans come as a relief. Apart from being a sustainable choice, since hemp is 100% biodegradable.

Additionally, when hemp is disposed of in the soil, it is capable of eliminating the harmful toxins from it, therefore, creating enough for a cleaner and safer environment to thrive. The material’s durability allows them to last longer than cotton and hence, wouldn’t require to be replaced frequently.

We are looking forward to the vent of change, something that is capable of substituting the principal utilities with an equally efficient option, and presently, hemp appears to be the ultimate solution for all our ordeals.

China Has Assigned 60,000 Soldiers to Plant Trees

Considering the raging effects of Global Warming that has taken every corner of this planet under its grip, China has reciprocated by assigning a total of 60,000 troops to plant trees and make way for new forests. According to reports, an active regiment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the country’s armed police have been removed from their posts, to guard the borders of the North. They have been tasked with planting trees that would resultantly create a stable platform to combat the evils of swelling pollution.

Considering the objective of the project, it is bound to be characterized by large-scale schemes and support from the authorities involved. As per plans, the major part of this number will be deployed to Hebei province, the one which encapsulates Beijing from all sides and where three new projects have been planned, and the rest will be evenly dispersed across the rest of the country. The primary reason supporting this distribution is that Hebei province is the principal perpetrator producing the thick and polluted smog that hovers like a blanket above the capital city. The regiments have pledged to escalate the total forest coverage of Hebei by 35% in 2020 so that the reputation of the capital as the ultimate culprit for instigating pollution, is waived off.

With this project, China is looking forward to transforming around 6.66 million hectares of land into new forests in this year itself. Additionally, in the last five years, near about 33.8 million hectares of land have already been used up to sow the seeds of trees that will grow and develop into nothing less than the literal getaways for a healthier and enriched life in such time of crises. As per reports, the country is also keen to increase the portion covered by woodlands by 1.3%; meaning, the configuration that rested at 21.7% in 2016 will go up to 23% by the end of 2020.

The armed police force has been served with a specially assigned forestry branch for surveillance to analyze the forested chunks of including the northeastern Greater Khingan mountain range, which is also known as China’s “green lungs” in Inner Mongolia provinces and Heilongjiang. If we are to state facts from the current forest reports, then it is worth mentioning that the total forested area of the nation now stands at 208 million hectares, which includes the introduction of 33.8 million acres of wooded land in the last five years.

China’s plan to remove soldiers from their posts and endow them with the responsibilities towards the environment is not new. When we go back a little, we are reminded of 2015 when Beijing announced its plan to release 30,000 soldiers and PLA-personnel who were allotted similar tasks of planting trees and improving the state-level infrastructure projects. Keeping aside the positive impacts that the project is about to ring in, the redeployed troops have shown enthusiasm towards this mission as well. According to the soldiers, planting trees inland would allow them to give up on the harsh living conditions that are predominant around the Northern borders of China, where they had been initially placed.

The Irwin Family Comes to The Rescue of Animals Injured in Australian Wildfires

The Irwin family is taking forward the legacy of Steve Irwin to save the animals that have been injured as a repercussion of the wildfires in Australia. Terri Irwin and Robert Irwin, Steve’s widow and son respectively, related out their thoughts in an interview about the devastation brought upon by the raging wildfires that have taken the entire flora and fauna of the nation into its ugly clutches.

They stated that witnessing the vulnerability of the animals in the face of this catastrophe was nothing but heartbreaking and upsetting. Innumerable helpless creatures from koalas to kangaroos from all across the country lost their habitats to this devastating disaster. Several videos and pictures surfaced on the internet that showed that these animals had no place to go and desperately looked for assistance after developing severe burns in the fire.

The Irwin family protecting and saving animals.

The Irwin family operates the Australian zoo, which was rendered safe from the fires, and according to reports, the wildlife hospital of the zoo has encountered a steep rise in the number of injured animals in the last few days. During the interview, Terri Irwin said: “The problem with the koalas, is that whenever they find themselves in the face of a crisis, they climb up to the top of the trees.” Eucalyptus trees, in particular, contain high portions of oil in their leaves, and whenever the fire hits a tree, it explodes in a moment.

The latest statistics suggest that the bushfires killed around one-third of koalas residing in New South Wales, and there was nothing anybody could have done about it. Even though the zoo’s hospital specializes in koalas, it takes all other injured animals into its care, including birds and bats as well. Terri further explained that if nothing is done about this wildfire soon, the number of animals admitted in the hospital will only increase, and hundreds will turn into thousands without us even knowing.

When animals die or are injured in such uncontrolled numbers, the entire balance of the ecosystem is disrupted; bats, for instance, are the farthest-flying pollinators, without them, the animals categorized below and above them will fail to survive and this chain will only continue to plague. Terri added that around 15 million acres of land have already been destroyed, and judging by the looks of it, the number will keep on multiplying if nothing is done about the galloping wildfire.

Terri confessed that the present situations in Australia are nothing less than a battle for the ecosystem. When coupled with the impacts of the melting glaciers, Amazon fires, and the rise of sea levels, the scale of the adversity becomes manifold. Given the current circumstances, we are now left in a position where we will either be more active and serious when it comes to safeguarding our environment or lose it forever.

The Unlimited Support for Australia from the Irwin Family to the Americans

Steve Irwin; Australian wildlife conservationist, environmentalist, and television personality. Having been passionate about wildlife since childhood, he grew up with the opportunity to study and care for the animals at his parents’ wildlife park, known today as the Australia Zoo. Irwin truly rose to fame as the host of the long-running television series, The Crocodile Hunter, which premiered in 1996. The show was a wildlife documentary, focusing on the real-life adventures of Irwin and his friends as they dealt with crocodiles and other dangerous animals. Following on from there, he branched out to other film and television projects, such as The Ten Deadliest Snakes in the World, as well as another documentary series, Croc Files. With his wife, he also took over in managing the Australia Zoo. 

Although Steve Irwin is no longer with us, his legacy lives on. His wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi and Robert, are wildlife activists as well. Terri has continued to own and operate the Australia Zoo, while her children have helped out with the zoo’s Wildlife Hospital. For well over a decade, the hospital has provided 24/7 support for animals in need of health care. 

More recently, the Irwin family and the rest of the hospital staff have helped rescue numerous animals who have been affected by the devastating wildfires currently plaguing Australia. The grey-headed flying foxes are one amongst many examples. Being a species listed as vulnerable, many of the foxes were flown over to the hospital to give them sanctuary from the ever-raging fires. Just a week ago, the staff also treated their 90,000th animal patient, a platypus named Ollie, who will remain at the hospital until he is ready to be released back into the wild. 

While the people at the zoo and the hospital have been doing everything they can, others have been lending their support in different ways. 3,000 people from Australia’s army, navy, and air force have been deployed to help combat the inferno. Even now, there are still over 140 fires ongoing throughout the country. The wildfires have proved to be devasting for humans as well, and have forced thousands to flee from their homes. The fires started up in September of 2019, and sadly, they are predicted to last for another several months still. They have been filling the skies with dense smoke, burning millions of acres of land, and destroying hundreds upon hundreds of homes. 

American and Canadian firefighters landing in Sydney to help with Victorian bush-fire

But Australia is not alone in its struggle. The U.S. and Canada has been continuing to send over support to help combat the fires. Canada has sent over roughly 100 firefighters, and, just a couple weeks ago, the U.S. sent nearly two dozen personnel from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. And this is along with the over 74 personnel that the U.S. already sent previously. However, the U.S. and Canada are dedicated to lending their support for as long as needed to help get the fires under control. 

Meanwhile, Terri Irwin has reported that the Australia Zoo and the animal hospital, situated along Sunshine Coast, are currently safe from all the fires. The hospital’s staff will remain hard at work tending to animals in need.